Starbucks is Testing a Greener Menu With Over 50 Percent Plant-Based Items
Starbucks is set to open a new store that boasts a menu with over 50 percent plant-based items, additionally implementing several sustainability measures including repurposed materials and zero-waste initiatives. As part of its “Greener Stores” concept, the new Shanghai store will be the company's first international iteration, promoting both sustainability and plant-based offerings.
The Greener Stores concept – Starbucks’ sustainability campaign that aims to open 10,000 environmentally conscious stores by 2025 – is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and experimenting with sustainable food and beverage options. Launched in 2017 alongside the World Wildlife Fund, the program intends to focus on promoting ethically sourced menus and prioritizing sustainable practice.
Currently, the international coffee giant operates approximately 2,300 Greener Store locations in the United States and Canada, making the Shanghai location the first location outside of North America. The company announced that the Greener Stores initiative works under the company’s greater pledge to push sustainable innovations throughout the entire company.
"Greener Stores is not meant to be a competitive tool," Senior Vice President of Store Development for Starbucks Andy Adams said in an interview. "In the same way that us working with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) helped us understand how to build in a sustainable way over the last 16 years, our approach to Greener Stores is meant to be even better suited to driving sustainable issues into the practice of operating retail."
The new location also showcases the company’s plant-based development, introducing 15 new plant-based items that include salads, sandwiches, cakes, and baked goods. Unlike any other location, Starbucks also announced that the Shanghai store will use oat milk as the default in the majority of its beverages. The shift marks the first time the company positioned a dairy alternative as the default, especially significant because most locations that feature oat milk still add a surcharge for plant-based milk options. Using oat milk, Starbuck will also debut two new dairy-free drinks: The Salted Caramel Flat White and the Salted Caramel Breve.
The Greener Stores concept falls under Starbucks’ mission to cut its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030. The company announced that it would work to reduce its water, waste, and greenhouse gas emissions companywide in an attempt to enhance its new planet-positive practices. CEO Kevin Johnson also recognized a rising demand for sustainable and plant-based options in consumers worldwide, announcing that the company would strive to meet this changing demand.
“If I were to say what is probably the most dominant shift in consumer behavior, [it] is this whole shift to plant-based [products],” Johnson said. “And that is a shift both in beverage and in food.”
The plant-based reveal in Shanghai signifies that the company is beginning to implement its vegan development worldwide. Adams announced that Starbucks will not be slowing down its Greener Stores campaign, pushing to open 7,700 more stores by 2025. He stated that "not only are we moving faster with the 2,300 stores, we now have a sustainable program that doesn't assume we're doing everything right today just because we did 10 years ago.”
The company plans to expand its Greener Stores concept to Japan, the United Kingdom, and Chile following the Shanghai opening. Earlier this week, Starbucks implemented plant-based offerings across 130 Chile locations. The company introduced a vegan beef sandwich using vegan beef and vegan mayo from The Not Company (NotCo) on the permanent menus across Chile. The introduction comes ahead of the eventual Greener Stores expansion into the country.